Reading time: 463 words, 1 page, 1 to 2 minutes.
You probably have smoke detector(s) in your home and perhaps even a carbon monoxide alarm but, do you have fire extinguishers? Talking with friends and colleagues, I’m amazed how many people don’t. If you don’t have extinguishers, a smoke detector will alert you so you can watch your home burn.
One day, our receptionist noticed a pick-up truck parked beside the road with smoke pouring out of the cab and a dazed driver getting in and out of the cab. I grabbed the nearest 5 lb. fire extinguisher and rendered assistance.
After extinguishing the fire and ensuring the driver was ok, I noticed that the fire extinguisher’s gauge was down by almost half. This surprised me as I would have expected more capacity although using short bursts may have drained more pressure than actual dry chemical content. Still, it underscores how little coverage a 5 lb. extinguisher has.
At home I had one 5 lb. extinguisher and two 2 ½ pounders. I thought I had lots of coverage in the event of a fire. However, the small pick-up truck fire made me realize how under-covered my home really is.
The next day, I visited a safety supply company. We looked at 5 lb. and 10 lb. ABC dry chemical extinguishers. A 5 lb. extinguisher covers 10 square feet. A 10 lb. covers 60 square feet. Yes, you read that right. Twice the weight gives six times the coverage. I was amazed at how much more area a 10 pounder would cover! So, I gave them my pathetic 2 ½ lb. extinguishers for disposal and bought two new 10 pounders.
If your home does not have at least one fire extinguisher, why not? Remember, if you don’t have extinguishers, a smoke detector will alert you so you can watch your home burn.
Note: if 10 pounds is too heavy for you, buy several 5 pounders.
And, remember that portable fire extinguishers are for putting out a small fire or containing it long enough to allow people to escape. Get yourself and family to safety FIRST before attempting to extinguish a fire and do so only if it does not endanger lives. The first rule of firefighting is to save lives first, and property second!
Every household should have a home fire escape plan, working smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. With properly-sized fire extinguishers and keeping the above in mind, you may be able to extinguish a small fire before the fire department arrives and does more damage than necessary as explained in Firemen Are Idiots, Not Heroes.
There are many websites that can give you more guidelines on how to use fire extinguishers in dealing with a fire. Here’s one of them.
April 3, 2013
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